I just finished reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. I was visiting another volunteer a while back and he had just finished reading it and offered to let me borrow it before it was added to the volunteer library in Tirana. I didn’t realize until I was half-way through that it had been categorized as a self-help book or I may have never borrowed it! Never the less, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

At times it was a little redundant, as Gladwell told old stories over and over to reiterate points he had just made with new stories but all of his examples were very interesting and well thought out. The idea behind blink is that our unconscious mind is able to take in complex information over a short period of time and quickly decipher it all to make a decision.  He calls this “thin-slicing”. The goal of the book is to encourage you to develop this part of your brain so that you become better at knowing when it is appropriate to trust your unconscious and when it is best to think a decision through.

“Blink” got me thinking about the role our unconscious plays in learning a new language. A large part of language seems to be governed by our unconscious mind. It is not very often that you think about grammar or sentence structure, while you speak. All of this is worked out unconsciously.

I think that it is important to recognize the importance that your unconscious plays in learning a new language because it is what governs your native tongue as well. I have caught myself using Shqip grammar that I have never studied or been exposed to except by listening to people speak. How else could I have figured it out if my unconscious hadn’t deciphered it for me?

While book studying is important, I think speaking and listening to let your subconscious do some sorting out is just as if not more important when learning a new language.


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